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John's Grocery Inc.

John's Grocery Inc.John's Grocery Inc.

66 Ratings
Ratings: 66
Reviews: 62
rAvg: 4.57
pDev: 6.78%
$$ - reasonable

[ Store ]

401 E Market St
Iowa City, Iowa, 52245-2628
United States
phone: (319) 337-2183

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Specializes in imported beer and glassware; also known as “Dirty John’s” for selling Playboy magazines in the 1950s.

Monday - Thursday: 7:30am –- Midnight
Friday & Saturday: 7:30am -– 2:00am)
Sunday: 9:00am –- Midnight

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Ratings: 66 | Reviews: 62 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by woodychandler:
Photo of woodychandler


5/5  rDev +9.4%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$

Great Caesar’s Ghost! Just like in Wichita, I seemed incapable of reading a map. I had this on my list of places that I wanted to visit, but not as my first stop. Instead, I wanted to drink a beer first. My faulty map reading landed me right on their doorstep and once I identified myself through a copy of the current issue of Ale Street News which was sitting in The Beer Room, the owner, Doug Alberhasky, gave me a tour of the place.

It was opened in 1848 and his grandparents took it over in 1958. It is one of only twenty-eight family-owned grocery stores in Iowa City and Doug said that they maintain a constant vigilance of the chains that would love to subvert their business. There have been five additions to the original building and they even have three apartments on the second floor, plus the mechanical room.

The Beer Room was all of the way aft, on the right hand side and had not only a huge selection of singles on shelves, but also a walk-in cooler for sixes, which were not to be broken. Doug relented on this dictum for me, since I really wanted a single bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, which I had only ever tried on-tap. All of the lights in the store have UV filters to reduce the chance of the beer getting light struck. I was also taken down into “The Cave”, which is a remnant of Iowa City’s first icehouse, which is now used as underground storage for all of the beer that does not fit upstairs. The depth and breadth of their selection was astounding.

After we came up from “The Cave”, Doug then led me out a side door on the right side of the building, across the parking lot, up a flight of steps, across the porch of what was once a private residence, and into their glassware and memorabilia outlet. My jaw dropped. For Phatz, MugHugger, and BitterBeerFace: yinz were talking last night about having appropriate glassware on hand and this place’s website would be a great place to shop. The entirety of this store was just mind blowing!

Whoops! I almost forgot to mention the nickname for this establishment: “Dirty John’s”. It is not that it is not kept-up. Au contraire, mes amis! It begins at immaculate and works upward. No, instead, it refers to a time in the early 1960’s, shortly after Doug’s grandfather, John, had taken over. Playboy was delivered in bundles and before John arrived to take them in, the bundle was purloined by some neighborhood boys, who, when caught, claimed that John had sold them the magazines. The investigating officer called to find out if this was true and the conversation went something like this: “Dirty John, are you peddling smut to kids out of that store of yours?” The name stuck. I should have bought a copy for nostalgia sake, but I did not think of it at the time.

12-03-2006 18:38:36 | More by woodychandler
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Photo of Sunn


4.54/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | $$$

I love this place. Very neat old-school grocery store with a HUGE selection of beers. The beer room itself is pretty cramped. If it's busy the majority of your time is spent saying and hearing the words "Excuse me.". The prices are goofy in this place. Some beer's are dirt cheap and others are way overpriced. The service and selection is awesome, though, so the prices don't really bother me.

I'm new to the craft beer world, and thanks to John's I've discovered so many great beers that you can't find anywhere else in Iowa. Whenever I'm in Iowa City, John's is a guaranteed stop.

06-09-2013 23:27:29 | More by Sunn
Photo of EdwardFortyHands


4.6/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 1 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$$

Dirty Johns was the first to sell playboy magazine in Iowa City IA.

Now it is the craft beer destination in eastern Iowa.

The staff is extremely helpful.

The selection is outta this state good.

The roast beef is made fresh daily

The the is the shiznotabamsnipsnapsally.

06-06-2013 05:25:05 | More by EdwardFortyHands
Photo of shivtim


4.06/5  rDev -11.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.5 | $$

John's is one of the better beer stores I've ever been to, probably just behind Hop City in Atlanta and Bruisin' Ales in Asheville.

It's a small grocery store, cramped and packed full of stuff, with the beer in the back. There's a large shelving section with an excellent selection of mostly foreign beers, and lots of singles from various US breweries. Then there's a walk-in cooler with a ton of local stuff, both six packs and singles, as well as the macro beers.

Fantastic selection here for out-of-towners. I was able to pick up a lot of singles from Iowa and other Midwest / Great Plains breweries. Dropped about $80 in two visits over the course of a weekend.

Highly recommended if you're visiting Iowa City.

06-04-2013 22:39:48 | More by shivtim
Photo of Tjvan2


4.38/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | $$$

Lots of imports and Belgians. Very good selection, although just a bit light in microbrews for my taste. Staff is very knowledgeable and can tell you just about anything about anything that they have. It's in a small corner grocery store, but the beer room is separated from the rest of the store and is worth the trip.

03-13-2013 03:40:51 | More by Tjvan2
Photo of morimech


4.14/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$

Stopped in on my trip past I-80. Easy to get to but the lack of parking was a disappointment. There is a small lot behind the store but it looked like chaos going on. Ended up parking a block or two away on campus. Risking a ticket I hurried myself to the store. One of the most interesting stores for beer I have set foot in. A small market/deli/wine/ and beer store. I think beer takes up most of the space but I did not search every nook and cranny in the building as I was in a hurry. Nice selection and I picked up a few bottles of interest or on sale. I think if it is for sale in Iowa, it is at John's. Interesting mix of college kids and longtime neighborhood residents. Service was very good and friendly even though I did not ask for assistance.

Not sure of the business model, but I would do away with the market and expand the deli and alcohol departments. God knows they need the room and there did not seem to be much focus on the deli which I think could be huge.

11-11-2012 00:34:54 | More by morimech
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John's Grocery Inc. in Iowa City, IA
100 out of 100 based on 66 ratings.